We live in an age where being tied to a desk and a workplace is no longer a necessary part of daily life. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic there was a shift towards more flexible ways of working, COVID-19 has just speeded up that transition.
With these new ways of working we have a lot more control over how and where we work. Most of us can now choose the tools we use to do our work. If we prefer to use Apple’s Keynote to do our presentations or Google Docs to write our reports we can do so. Although there are still some companies who insist on using the official company tools, but these companies are becoming increasingly isolated.
With this flexibility, we become more responsible for how we do our work and from where and that gives us a wonderful opportunity to create a working environment that works for us.
Many years ago, I worked in a medium-sized law firm. It was a standard open-plan office working environment. We had to be at work by 9:00 AM and were allowed one hour for lunch which could be taken between 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM. Our workstations all looked the same with a large beige coloured Windows 95 desktop and similarly coloured printer on our desks. We all used Outlook (or it’s early 2000s iteration), Word and Excel and a special database application for maintaining our clients information.
Thinking about it now, there was little difference working in that office to working a Factory floor. Our work was monotonous data inputting with the occasional excitement when Land Registry documents revealed a 200-year-old clause stating no alcohol was permitted in the property. The only solution was to contact the creator of the title deeds for permission to remove the clause (known as a “covenant”) which, of course, was impossible as that person had long departed this world.
Today, that way of working is rare. Today, we can work from home, a coffee shop or the beach. All we need is a laptop and an internet connection.
With that choice comes many decisions. What software tools should I use? Where should I work today? Should I stay at home or go in to the office? And with these decisions, we can often experience decision fatigue.
However, these changes to the way we work bring amazing opportunities to develop a way of working that fits our character and personality. Perhaps you work best between 5 AM and 10 AM or between 4 PM and 9 PM. Or like me, you like to exercise in the middle of the day and split your working day up. The great thing is you get to choose.
One thing we know for certain is the way we worked pre-pandemic is not coming back and this gives us the chance to develop an optimised way of working that fit’s our style. So, as we approach the end of the year take a little time to review how you work and test out new and better ways.
We are all different. We all like different tools. I’m a Todoist and Evernote person who does all his writing in Ulysses and uses Apple calendar as my calendar. You may be a Trello and Notion user who writes everything in Google Docs.
Testing the best working environment for you now will leave you starting the new year with renewed energy and allow you to work at your optimum level.
This year has been a year of change and new experiences. It has forced us to adapt and experiment and that’s a great thing. If you have not found the best way to work for you, you can experiment and find your sweet spot.
Life should never be all work and no play. As we emerge into the new post pandemic world, how would you like to work? Less commuting time allows us more time to do other things. Rather than wasting that opportunity take advantage of it. Instead of a one-hour drive to work each morning, you could use that time to study something new or exercise.
Take some time to reorganise your work tools. If you are spending more time working from home have a look round and see if you can find a better place to work. Perhaps a room with more natural light, or maybe you could invest in a standing desk.
We have a great opportunity to develop our ‘perfect’ day with a ‘perfect’ working environment. If you start an hour or two earlier you can block time out to work on your most important projects without the incessant interruptions from Microsoft Teams or Slack. Perhaps you can keep a period of time each day free for online meetings, or exercise.
One way of doing this is to create a new calendar on your calendar and call it “perfect day” and test out different ways of structuring your day. When I did this, I found that blocking my calendar out between 7 AM and 9 AM allowed me to get my most important work done for the day before I had calls and meetings. It left me feeling much more relaxed about the day. You get to choose.
Don’t waste this opportunity. Have a look around, see where you can improve your working environment and how you structure your day. You will thank yourself for that when the new year begins.
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